Watch Jay Allen's Heartbreaking 'Blank Stares' Video to Fight Alzheimer's

Jay Allen always dreamed of being a songwriter, but he never imagined that his most famous song would also be his most heartbreaking. The 32-year-old is the creative mind behind "Blank Stares," written about his own mother's devastating battle with early-onset Alzheimer's disease.

"It's a song of hope," Allen tells PEOPLE of the song. "Let's find a cure for this thing. It's really sad, but once you have hope, you have inspiration. With inspiration, you have action. So hopefully this song inspires the researchers, the doctors to work harder. I pray it starts with me and this song. I honestly do."

"Blank Stares," which says, "So I keep holding on / To every little memory made of you and me / Every little glimpse of who you used to be / I know you're still in there / Deep down somewhere I swear I still see you / Between the blank stares," was inspired by a moment when Allen's mother, only 54 years old, didn't recognize her own son for the first time.

"She looked right through me and it literally crushed me," Allen recalls. "I've always been a fixer. If there's a problem in the family, with my friends, whatever, I find a way to fix it. I've always been the solution-finder. But it was the first time when I was like, 'I can't fix this.'"

There are still bright moments for Allen, even among such heart-wrenching tragedy. In an attempt to get over his grief that his mother no longer knew him, the Iowa native took his parents to downtown Nashville to hear some live music, unaware of the impact it would have on his mother.

"She heard the music and right away she started smiling and tapping her foot," Allen recounts. "It was like the music woke her up."

"We started dancing, the music's blaring and she grabbed me and held me real tight — right in the middle of us dancing — and she took a deep breath," he continues. "She pulled me real close. She whispered in my ear. She said, 'Oh Jay. I missed you. I love you so much. I miss you son.' She was like my momma. She was back for a second and I about lost it."

Jay-allen
(Photo: Instagram/jayallenmusic)

Allen knew he wanted to write songs that impacted people, but after that moment, he realized he wanted to write a song about his mother's journey.

"My faith is everything and I was just like, 'Man. God is talking to me,'" Allen says. "I just felt like he was saying, 'Buddy, I gave you a voice. I gave you the talent to write songs, so write a song for your momma.' It kept hitting me wave after wave like, 'Write a song that'll fight against Alzheimer's.'"

"I was a newer songwriter and I was just like, 'Really? You're putting this on me?'" adds the tunesmith. "But I couldn't shake it. I remember walking around my house by myself just talking to God and crying about it. Finally I was like, 'I'm gonna do this thing.'"

Allen brings his mother up on stage when he sings "Blank Stares," which always draws plenty of emotion from the crowd, although he insists that isn't why he performs the song night after night.

"I don't ever expect a reaction," Allen says. "I wanna share the story. I know bringing her up there creates a moment and when people see it with their eyes, it's a reality for them. I'm talking to myself the whole time in my head so I don't cry. But I feel like it's my job. I always told myself, 'If I'm gonna be an artist and do this thing, I don't wanna do it to be famous. I wanna have a purpose behind what I do.'"

Proceeds from "Blank Stares" go to Abe's Garden, a memory care facility in Nashville, where Glen Campbell, also stricken with Alzheimer's, lived out his final days. Download the song at JayAllenOfficial.com.

0comments

Donate to Abe's Garden here.

Photo Credit: Instagram/jayallenmusic